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Book Review Books

Book review: City of Bones & City of Ashes

Now, I know these are old books, an old series but I have started reading this 6-book series this year, so I’m writing about them now.

City of Bones is the first part of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and is the book enchanting or what. I started reading it because I had to reduce he size of my one-year-old TBR list and this one called to me. Once I started, I had to finish it at he earliest and move to the next part.

Clarissa or Clary is an average American teenage girl who has a fairly simple life. Going to school, going out with friends and defying her mom. She has never known her father but she has a father-figure in her life, Luke. All this changes one day when she meets a handsome and attractive boy, Jace and his friends Alec and Isabelle.

Soon after, Clary’s mother disappears and she is sucked into a world that she didn’t even know existed. She meets Shadowhunters, demons, werewolves, vampires and warlocks. In her pursuit to find her mother, she comes across many truths that were hidden from her and also falls in love with Jace.

At the end of the first part, Clary finds her mother but she is in a coma-like state and no medicine shows any effect on her. Clary also learns some shocking truth about herself and Jace which changes the dynamics of her blossoming relationship with Jace completely.

Part two of the series, City of Ashes carries on with Clary’s search for a cure for her mother and also her struggles with the reality of the life that was hidden from her so far. They are all under serious threat from Valentine, the great villain, as he is gaining more power with each passing day.

Talking of the characters, Clary is a likeable teenager who is suddenly thrust into the unknown with no clue of who to trust and how to protect herself. Jace is fearless warrior who comes across as arrogant at first but is quite charming when he wants to be. Simon, Clary’s best friend is a normal human boy who likes her and keeps trying to tell her this. His character shows the maximum change and is a delight to read.

I found Cassandra Clare’s writing fast and interesting. I am partial towards fantasy books and this series has delivered it for me. The first two parts are good, fast and with enough plot twists to keep you hooked. From first page to the last, I was completely engrossed and as soon as I finished the first part, I wanted to move to the next. There are four more to go in the series and I have no idea how the story will pan out ahead, but the beginning of the saga is promising enough.

My rating: 4.5/5 for City of Bones

4.5/5 for City of Ashes

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Book Review Books

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Sometimes I just love myself for the fact that I love reading! OK, so this book is not all that great or a literary genius but its good and fast and the girls take charge in a world where men make all the rules. Children of Blood and Bone is about Zelie, a diviner (one with magical blood) and Amari, the princess of Orisha who team up along with Tzain, Zelie’s brother to bring back magic to Orisha and bring down King Saran’s terrorising reign. When Amari sees the scroll that has the power to reawaken magic, she runs away with it from the royal castle and Zelie, without realising who she is, helps her escape.

Zelie and Amari have been chosen by the Gods to finish the quest to bring back magic and they start on this journey, albeit hesitantly and distrustful of each other. King Saran wants to keep magic dead and he would do anything to enure this. His son, Inan is on his side working hard to impress his father and be the future king that his father wishes him to be. What he soon realises though is that he too has magic in his blood which is reawakened when he accidentally touches the magic scroll while chasing Zelie and Amari.

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel is full of magic, even her words are magically woven. The love of siblings, struggle of a young girl who has seen her mother being tortured and hanged as an example, a brother’s struggle to keep his younger sister safe; another brother trying to capture his sister to impress his tyrranical father and a young princess who finds in herself the power to stand up against her father and runs away to help the diviners.

Of all the characters, Inan is probably the one who drew the short straw on life’s struggles because he is in the most unfathomable position of all. Trying to fit into his father’s very large expectations, he tries to bottle up his magic so he can be the son and prince that his father wants him to be.

The magical world is nicely woven, the feelings are too real and emotions are brilliantly depicted. With three teenagers having been thrust a task too daunting for them, the emotions are running high and mistakes are made. And it is Tomi Adeyemi’s amazing word-play that brings it all to life. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and I am hopeful that the second part will be just as good.

My rating: 4.8/5

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

I remember, as a kid when I read a book I imagined myself being there, partaking the same adventure as the characters in the book. The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club has reminded me of the same childhood with its ships and unicorns. Stella’s adventure is so perfectly depicted, that it’s not hard to imagine being there in the Icelands with her.

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club has Unicorns and dragons and wolves. Stella, an orphan girl, is taken
in by an explorer, Felix who brings her up as his own daughter. She has grown up listening to Felix’s stories of grand explorations and wishes to become an explorer herself. The only hindrance in her path is that The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club does not accept girls. It is a man’s world and she is not allowed to be a part of it. After much pleading on Stella’s part, Felix gets her accepted as a part of the Club and thus, she embarks upon an adventurous journey to the centre of the Icelands, where no man has ever reached before.

Though it is a children’s book, I enjoyed reading it. The plot is fast and easy. Stella is a lovable character and Beanie is different from others and cute. Other child explorers, Shay and Ethan have their wolf-whispering and magic and this unique group is stranded in the ice and they have to survive without any adult to help them.

Fairy-tale plus adventure with a touch of feminism makes for a great story and this one surely delivers. There are Frosties too who will bite off your fingers once you fall asleep. And the ending is so promising. I hope the sequel is coming soon.

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Girl in The Tower

You know a book is well written when you are so engrossed in it that you don’t even realise when you reached the last page.

The Girl in The Tower starts where The Bear and The Nightingale ended.

After the death of her father and step-mother, Vasya leaves home to escape death in the hands of the villagers or a life in convent. She embarks upon an adventurous journey on her horse and reaches the abode of the Winter King. From there she moves ahead, dressed as a boy, to see the world. Her journey takes her to Moscow with her brother Sasha.

In Moscow is Vasya’s elder sister Olga, who is happily managing her household. Her daughter also sees the Domovoi and ghosts, just like Vasya. In Moscow begins another struggle for Vasya as she must protect her identity at all costs because the Prince of Moscow thinks very highly of the boy Vasilii and giving up her identity now would cause immense trouble for her brother and sister.

The novel starts same as the first part, with a Russian folktale, full of supernatural elements, which Olga narrates to other women and children of her Tower. The narrative is fast and interesting. The story builds with every page and before long you are dying to know what’s next for Vasya.

Vasya, as a character has really grown from a headstrong, stubborn girl to a wise young woman without losing her sense of independence. She is a woman in a man’s world and she keeps fighting the constraints put on her by the medieval Russian society.

The brilliance in Katherine Arden’s writing is such that you will find yourself riding and walking with Vasya, feeling devastated with her, angry for her and rooting for her all the way to the end. And also, a special mention for our very own Frost Demon. How can one not fall for him? For he is powerful, he is frost and he is vulnerable too. The way he takes care of Vasya and protects her is enough to melt anyone’s heart.

And now, I am impatiently waiting for third book of the series.

My rating: 4.8/5

 

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Book Review Books

Book Review: The Wonderling

A wonder fox in a wonderful world, though he has no idea how wonderful the world can be. Mira Bartok’s The Wonderling is about a foundling who lives in an orphanage that believes in stomping on the orphaned, ill-lucked creatures. Foundlings are creatures who are neither animals, nor humans. They are somewhere in between giving them a peculiar look. They look like animals but speak like humans and such is the time that the humans fear these groundlings and have rules for them. Our hero, The Wonderling is an orphan at Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures and named Number Thirteen. Miss Carbunkle is a torrid lady who only believes in torturing the groundlings, starves them and makes them work till they break their backs. But the one tortured the most is Number Thirteen who doesn’t even remember where he came from or who his parents were. And what’s more peculiar about him is that he has only one ear but unknown to anyone else, he can hear even far off sounds and understand the mice and rats. He then befriends Trinket, a bird groundling who also names him Arthur, after the brave king, and together they hatch a plan to run away from the Home and embark on an adventurous journey.

The book uses peculiarity with good and dark magic and quest for power as a perfect base and I was sucked into the world of Arthur right from the part where he is introduced as Number Thirteen. All through his life so far, he encounters this number at various stages and thinks that maybe he was bad luck himself. As a reader, you cannot be left unaffected by Arthur’s predicament.

This is a beautiful story and the author has created a wondrous fantasy world. This is a story of courage to face bullying, facing one’s fears and sticking up for friends and doing the right thing even in the face of adversity. It is a story of a groundling turning into The Wonderling and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

My rating: 4.5/5

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Books

Book review: The Bear and the Nightingale

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“But seasons turn and seasons change

The Wind blows from the south

The fires cone, the storms, the spears

The sorrow and the dark”

The caption of the novel says ‘Beware the evil in the woods’ and aptly so. Katherine Arden’s story, The Bear and the Nightingale is based on the Russian fairy tale of the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun or better known as Morozko, the demon of winter. When the story starts, Pyotr Vladimirovich’s household is a happy one with his wife, four children and an old nurse, Dunya. But by the time winter comes, his wife Marina has died in childbirth leaving a daughter, Vasilisa, fondly called Vasya, in Pyotr and Dunya’s arms making them promise to protect her.

Vasilisa grows up to be a brash girl with no inclination towards household works and a penchant for horse riding and weapons. While she struggles with the fixed roles of women in the society, she also feels the presence of magical creatures around her. With time, her father remarries and Vasya’s stepmother can also see the creatures but she thinks of them as demons and is always scared. The creatures or the house sprites protect the houses and animals from the dead. Soon after Pyotr remarries, a new priest comes to the village, Father Konstantin and he is waylaid by a demonic power and he forbids the people from feeding the sprites thereby weakening the protection around them. And the dead attack along with the Bear and it is left upon Vasya to fight them alone with her stepmother and Father Konstantin hindering her path at every step.

Set in medieval Russia the book is full of magic and mystery. The characters are brilliantly developed and the fantastical world will have you crave for more. The book will hold on to you from the first page to the last leaving you enchanted. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to reach me for I want to dive into Katherine Arden’s magical world once again.

My rating: 5/5